The Warner House will be open Thursday through Sunday from May 26 until October 16 2022 from 11 AM - 4 PM.

A Brief History of Dolls

As the holiday season glows all around us, there is the exciting notion of giving and receiving all sorts of gifts. Whether it be giving kindness and help to those in need, or giving shiny new things to your loved ones, the act of gift-giving extends back for centuries. Children especially enjoy the act of receiving gifts! One object in particular has remained a popular children’s gift for ages: dolls.

Here in the Warner House, we have a few lovely porcelain dolls in our collection. These dolls most likely belonged to the children that lived here in the 19th century, grandchildren of the Sherburne family branch.

Dolls have existed for a long time, dating all the way back to Ancient Egypt. Wooden dolls were found in Egyptian tombs, and clay dolls were found in the graves of Ancient Roman children. Throughout history, dolls were often dressed to mimic the latest fashions. Dolls have had all sorts of purposes throughout history: some dolls were made for children to play with, some dolls were made for spiritual and religious purposes, and some dolls were made for adults to show off fashion trends. Dolls can be made out of many different types of material, from corn husks to wood to clay.

Porcelain dolls, also known as bisque dolls, are made either entirely or partially out of biscuit porcelain, which produces a more realistic finish. The main difference between bisque dolls and china dolls is that bisque porcelain is unglazed whereas china porcelain is glazed. The first European china dolls began being manufactured in Germany in the 1840s. Bisque dolls began gaining popularity in the 1860s and continued in their popularity into the early 20th century after World War I. Before the mid-19th century, dolls had mostly been made to resemble adults, but after the 1850s, there were more options to make dolls appear more childlike. One of these was known as the French Bébé doll, which was a doll with childlike features, including big eyes. These types of dolls were made by manufacturing companies, such as Jumeau, Gaultier, and Bru.

With the introduction of plastic in the 20th century, dolls began to be mass-produced at lower costs, which led to easier access to dolls for many people. Barbie dolls emerged in 1959, which took the market by a storm and surged in popularity throughout the rest of the 20th century. Who knows what types of new materials may emerge in the future for dolls!